Indiana Companies Sued for Asbestos Response Costs

The United States of America filed suit last Friday in the Southern District of Indiana against defendants Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, Lear Siegler Diversified Holdings Corp., and Ferodo America, LLC. The complaint, which the United States filed on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleged that the defendants violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) when they

The New Castle Asbestos Site occupies over 9 acres of land and was previously occupied by “a car parts manufacturing facility owned and operated successively by legal predecessors of the Defendants.” Until 1988, automotive and brake shoe manufacturing was conducted at the site. Both processes released asbestos at the site. The building materials that were used to build structures at the site also contained asbestos. In 2012, a fire in a building on the site led to the building being demolished and the debris left in piles on the site.

The EPA conducted a site assessment in 2013 in which they sought to determine if asbestos was present at the site. Their samples in 2013 along with additional samples years later indicated that asbestos was present throughout the site in a way that called for a time critical removal action.

The removal action was conducted between May and July of 2017 by the EPA. The complaint explains that the agency “excavated and disposed of debris piles, whole and crumbled brake pads, contaminated soils, and pits containing asbestos-containing material.” 6,928 tons of material were removed during the process.

Under CERCLA, the EPA is authorized to recover the expenses from the removal action from the potentially responsible parties. The response costs at the site totaled $1,981,664.43.

Each of the defendants is a legal and corporate successor to a party that owned and operated the site when the asbestos was disposed, which implicates them in the response costs under CERCLA. The complaint asserts that the defendants, “as successors to their predecessors in interest, are jointly and severally liable to the United States for all unreimbursed response costs incurred by the United States in connection with the Site pursuant to CERCLA.”

The complaint cites two claims for relief. The plaintiff is seeking favorable judgment on each count, response costs and further response costs incurred in connection with the site, litigation fees, and any other relief deemed proper by the court.